The Hamoon-e-Mashkhel is a large expanse of desert located on the lower western border of Pakistan extending into Iran. We had been warned about the tough conditions and the need to be together all throughout the drive as one’s sense of direction in such situations can falter with disastrous results. Four people had lost their lives here recently and their remains were found within four to five kilometers of their vehicle. They had lost their way amongst the many tracks that lead nowhere in the desert. Eventually they ran out of fuel and in a desperate attempt to save their lives, they had tried to walk to the nearest habitation. There are also patches of quick sand in the desert and one has to be wary of these black holes. Staying on the tracks and not wandering off the main track was the advice given to us by the young Captain at the base.
1KZ or 2LT, 3B or 13BT, 1C and 2L, confusing numbers and alphabet game or engine designations, who knows… it might as well be Greek for those who aren’t engine savvy. If you are even considering building a Jeep in Pakistan, you should know the various engine choices available to you. Read on and enlighten yourself.
One of the cars broke down in the Mashkell desert, so we towed it all the way to Dalbandin. Here, we put it on a truck and sent it back to Karachi.
We procedded from Quetta to Karachi with a stop over at Khuzdar for the night.
Jeep: 1986 Ford Bronco II
Salman Ali? A falconer first and everything else a distant second. Also very fond of hunting, fishing, camping, traveling, writing and photography. Works sometimes when he has absolutely nothing else to do. “Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond, call me what you will!”
Jeep: Toyota Surf
Engine: Toyota B3 Overbored. Stainless steel headers, Straight through exhaust.
Gearbox: Toyota Coaster 5-speed with extra low 1st gear.
Axles: Orignal AMC Model 20 axles in the rear, Dana 30 up front.
Tires: 32×11.5 inch Dunlop Grandtrek on 10 inch rims.
Lightening: H4 headlamps, 8 inch Nano offroad lights
Other Specs: Double shocks at all four corners, stablizer bar, traction bars, winch, extra lights. Fire extinguisher and gun rack mounted on the roll bar. On board air compressor. Travel limting straps on all 4 leaf springs. 12,000 pound Warn winch.
Custom built tailgate storage, with 2 jerry cans and 2 spare tires.
Jeep Profile: Built for extreme offroading.
Owners Profile: Dr. Mansur Ahmad
A 1952 M38 Willy’s military Jeep. This Jeep was bought by Hamid Omar in the 70’s from Lyari, where it was hauled behind a donkey cart to Shafi’s workshop. It has been rebuilt a number of times since then, and is tied with Taimur Mirza’s CJ7 for most work done on a jeep in Pakistan. It has now been handed on to his son. A 1951-2 M38, it is likely the only flatfender in Pakistan with an EFI engine.
Engine: 2LT-II – 2.4 litre turbo charged EFI diesel with the EGR removed. Custom Wiring Harness. Original Japanese radiator. Air filter from a new Toyota Hilux.
Purchased: 1970s (Re-built many times since)
Rebuilt: Almost Continuosly – last in Feb 2004.
Gearbox: Daihatsu 5 Speed Manual with on the fly 4×4.
Axles: Off a Daihutsu Rocky, with front disc brakes.
4.88 Differential ratio.
Tires: 31×10.5 Yokohama Geolander AT II + on steel rims.
Lighting: Hella european spec halogen headlamps with offroad H4 bulbs. One 300 watt Boeing light (meant for blinding buses and honda civics with 16 lights). BJ-40 signalling lamps.
Suspension: Adjustable Shock absorbers. Formerly RS9000’s which have now bit the dust. Custom stainless steel greasable shackles and u-clamps. Original M38 leafsprings. Nine way adjustable RS9000X shock absorbers on all four corners! Next update: A set of Rancho leafsprings
Other Specs: On the fly 4×4 shifting. CD Changer and Casstte player
7 5 speaker system. Air Conditioned with custom top. Power Steering. Extended fuel tank. Custom made roof rack,bumper and rollbar. Warn 8274 winch. Hood flares (for better cooling).
In Pakistan, there is a limited choice when it comes to choosing a 4×4 vehicle. The major types are listed below, with a short description and rating for each vehicle. With the older 4×4’s, their offroad prowess depends mainly on their owners, while with the newer 4×4’s, it’s mostly up to the vehicle as it cannot be modified much. With these old jeeps, its the driver that’s the most important part of the drivetrain, which is what makes them so much fun off the road.
The following jeeps are rated according to Pakistani terrain, where we hardly ever see any mud. We’ve got rocks, more rocks, even bigger rocks, and lots of fine sand! Most of the local jeeps would do terribly in deep mud, so luckily there isn’t any! 4×4 lowrange can compensate for lack of power in any terrain, but with mud you need raw power coupled with fast throttle response.
The knowledge of a monolith almost 900 feet high in the remote region of Baluchistan was based on a narrative by Captain G.P. Tate in his book on travels in Baluchistan and published in 1892. An effort worth every second of the long journey from Karachi to see this Natural Wonder almost at the Pak-Afghan border north of Nok-Kundi, would be remembered by all our members. The topography en-route to the Neza of this area varies to such an extent where one encounters one of the largest salt pan approximately 125 miles wide by 150 miles long a salt crusted flat ground stretching for miles in all directions, the Oases of Mashkel, the extinct volcano called Miri Mountain, a sight to see both in the satellite image by Nasa and yourself, the cascading sand dunes of Kharan, and above all the vastness and open space, un-tampered by modern technology.
Reproduced below is the narrative of Captain G.P. Tate.
In search of the extraordinary tombs.
Reproduced below is a part from the narrative of Journey made by Col. Henry Pottinger in 1807 and written in a book called Travels through Baluchistan and Sind published in 1810. He was the first European to travel through Baluchistan on Camel back and recorded his journey. To find the extraordinary tombs described below, search has been attempted in the past as far back in 1905 for the location of the unusual tombs but in vain. I along with friends also attempted looking for these tombs in 1999.
The lands route most of the way from Rawalpindi to Gilgit follows the Karakoram Highway up the deep Indus River gorge. The best way to go by road to Gilgit is by following the Grand Trunk road west over the insignificant ridge called the Margella Pass, a place that the noted British historian Sir Olaf Caroe considered being the boundary between the South Asian subcontinent and Central Asia. Then you pass the turnoff to Taxila, and extensive series of archaeological sites from successive civilizations dating from 600 B.C to 600 A.D. that stood at the cultural crossroads of China, India, Central Asia, and the West. Next you swing south of Wah, a town favored by the Moghuls, who built elegant gardens and pavilions here in the sixteenth century. The route turns off the grand Trunk Road cluttered intersection
Mountain exploration began in Europe only in the eighteenth century. Until then the mountains were feared, with most cultures believing them to be home of hungry dragons and fairies able to seduce the unwary to an untimely death. The climbing of Mont Blanc in 1786 created the kind of attitude necessary for the exploration of the greater Himalayan ranges, and this coincided with the expansionist plans of the British East India Company.
Pakistan is a land of contrasts; the land of the Indus, which flows through the country for 2500 kilometers. It is a land of snow covered peaks and burning deserts, of fertile mountain valleys and irrigated planes. It is a land of striking variety of colours and customs. Its name means the ‘land of the pure’ in Urdu. The best way to see this rich countryside is to travel by road. The deserts, the mountains, the rivers, the arid plateaus, the green field all hold a special attraction. Their enormity and grandeur can only be experienced if you have seen them for yourself for it is impossible to appreciate the beauty of the scenery by just reading about it.
KARACHI: I have just got back from a 7-day, 3,000-kilometre trip through the coastal and southern region of Balochistan. There were 24 of us, in seven jeeps – all tried and tested members of a Karachi-based off-roaders club, people who scorn paved roads and are happiest when trundling along uncharted dirt tracks, preferably in low gear. Our journey took us from Karachi to Aghor Camp on the Hingol River, from there through the wonderfully named Buzi Pass to Ormara, then via Pasni to Gwadar, from there to Turbat, the headquarter of Makran division, and on via Hoshab to Panjgur, Awaran, Jhal Jhao, Bela and back to Karachi.
Kanrach, a sparsely populated region in southeastern Balochistan, about 120 kilometres north of Karachi, is a land of great beauty but also of great poverty. Situated in Las Bela district and named after the village of Kanrach, the region is bordered on the east by the rugged Chapar Range (rising to a height of 1,500 metres) and on the west by the Mor Range (rising to a height of 1,400 metres).
Having travelled all over Pakistan, I have finally come to the conclusion that Balochistan is one of the least explored and most fascinating place on the blue planet.
An archaeologists paradise, a geologists dream come true, Off-roaders, camping enthusiasts, trekkers, star gazers, nature buffs, desert roamers, history diggers, miners, prospectors, in short every one who is associated with or loves the out doors would find this land pulling like a magnet if once visited.